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Yerevan Biennale 01, 2013

ARGARMENIA

Curated by John Hetherington

Armenian Center For Contemporary Experimental Art

www.accea.info

The Oldest Computer in the World Discovered!

The final installment of the four ARG’s in Armenia began as a closing event for the first Yerevan Biennale staged at the Armenian Center For Contemporary Experimental Art (NPAK). The ARG used the function of the International Art Biennale and the tour guided experience as a way to frame the final episode in the four part series which was first started by students at Tumo - center for creative technologies.

From popular trash culture, Russian oligarchies, assassinations, green activism, fictional narratives and sci-fi references to deep history, deep time and the black market trade of illicit antiquities all of which was re-contextualized through local contemporary history and folklore - so began the journey that “players” found themselves in throughout the final ARG.

Oldest Computer in the World Discovered

THE GAME PLAN & WALKING ROUTE

Game Plan - Tour Guide Walking Map

Visit Site>>

Video Intro>>

 

ARTISTS

Aram Ziririan

Elen Arakelian

Mher Zornakyan

Nare Yeghoyan

Narek Torigian

Anahit Saroyan

Hayk Naroyan

Lilit Papazian

Gor Movsesian

Sona Ishakian

Armen Hekimyan

Lusine Basmajian

Alen Aronyan

Svetlana Zildjian

Lina Arakelian

Gohar Khangeldian

Taron Gharibyan

Liana Kobilina

Lusik Ghazaryan

Tatev Babayan

Nune Mkrtchyan

Edgar Yenokyan

Tamara Hunanyan

David Balagyozyan

Marat Hovhannisyan

 

ACTORS

Hakob Kpryan

David Partmayan

Chris Howlett

ACCEA

The show consisted of all the products I consumed while undergoing my three month residency in Yerevan. A number of the products on the floor contained clues that were accessed using an iPad or smart phone which had the augmented reality app called Wikitude installed. The clues led you into the exhibition resulting in an invitation to meet at the front of the gallery for a free guided historical tour of old Yerevan City.

The Armenian Center For Contemporary Experimental Art (ACCE) also known as “NPAK”- the experimental art gallery space is situated directly opposite the Vernisage, off Republic Square in Yerevan City. The site of the exhibition was one of the rabbit holes for the final ARG staged in Yerevan.

Yerevan Biennale 01 - NPAK

Melancolia

A sculpture of prominent Armenian sculptor Yervand Kochar "Melncholia", which was created in 1959 and installed in 2003 outside of NPAK, Faustus of Byzantium street, Kentron district. Salvador Dali was a student of Kochar. The guide waits for people to arrive.

Located: Buzzand Street, Yerevan, Armenia.

Melancholia

Vernissage – craft and design

The guide takes us across the Vernissage which is a large open-air market in Yerevan. The market lies along Aram and Buzand streets at a length of 600 metres, connecting Nalbandyan street with Khanjyan street. The market mainly features a collection of different types of traditional Armenian art works.

Located: Buzzand Street, Yerevan, Armenia.

Vernissage

The Architect

We stop at Tamanyan’s Head Statue. Alexander Tamanian was a Russian-born Armenian neoclassical architect, well known for his work in the city of Yerevan. Tamanian created the first general plan of the modern city of Yerevan which was approved in 1924. Tamanian's style was instrumental in transforming what was essentially a small provincial city into the modern Armenian capital, a major industrial and cultural center.

Located: Aram Street, Yerevan, Armenia.

Tamanyan Statue

Vishapakars/Dragon Stones

Along the same road we stop at what are called “Dragon stones” (Arm. vishapakar) which are stelae carved with animal imagery found in the high-altitude summer pastures of modern Armenia and neighboring regions (Javakheti/Trialeti, Nakhijevan, Erzurum/Kars). Dragon stones are highly symbolic artifacts. Their name may be connected to local folk tales where dragons are monstrous giants living in the mountains or, perhaps, it may be due to a misunderstanding of the imagery carved on them. The habitat of dragon stones is between 2000-3000 m above the sea level. This is a Bronze Age phenomenon (very probably the main period of existence is the Middle Bronze Age – first half of the 2nd millennium BC). The stones bear a permanent memory of sacrificial rituals inscribed in their material, their original barrows where not just burials, but first and foremost a previously unknown typology of high-altitude sacred sites for ritual performances. These stones were brought to Yerevan City.

Located: Aram Street, Yerevan, Armenia.

Dragon Stone

The Oldest Door in Yerevan

Across the road we stop in one of the oldest parts of Yerevan City where an unassuming door carved from wood depicts both Pagan and Christian symbols. The graphic and abstract symbolism represents the idea of the sacred as it relates to both the family and its role within the structure of the house.

Located: Abovyan Street, Yerevan, Armenia.

Oldest Door in Yerevan

Para-History

As we walk up the street we encounter a series of window designs in one of the oldest buildings in Armenia. It’s meanings cross over into many different religious and pagan interpretations, influences and ancient histories which contradicts the newly built Northern Avenue mall that was recently built a number of years ago.

Located: Abovyan Street, Yerevan, Armenia.

Window

An Ancient Stone Artifact

An Archeologist in the group visiting from Australia presents a found stone artefact that was found at a dig near Mount Ararat which has an identical symbol engraved into its surface. He shows the guide and the group wonders what the ancient significance of the symbol may mean in this context?

Located: Abovyan Street, Yerevan, Armenia.

Stone Artifact

Dragon Star System

We walk up the street and find a water feature located in front of the Moscow theatre that consists of a number of sculptural elements representing various figures of the zodiac calendar that originally derive from the Dragon Star System.

Located: Abovyan Street, Yerevan, Armenia.

Foutain

Sculpture Reliefs

The guide proceeds to talk about a tryptitch of modern sculptural reliefs attached to the outside wall of the Moscow theatre. The struggle for Armenian independence is depicted from three different periods of history; firstly from ancient to medieval and lastly the modern era.

Located: next to the cinema, Abovyan Street, Yerevan, Armenia

Sculpture Relief history

Illegal Evictions & Homelessness

We walk down a side street and find ourselves in modern day residential ruins alongside mega story vacant hotels. The residents of Pavstos Buzand Street at the city center have been homeless for approximately 10 years. Although the government was committed to finding a solution to the problem, it failed to resolve the housing issue of the former residents of this acquired area who were swindled out of their money by local governmental corruption and Russian oligarchs.

Located: Aram Street, Yerevan, Armenia.

Homelessness in Yerevan

Modern-Day Khachkar

We walk down a side street and find modern day stone masons carving stone crosses known as khachkar. They are also known as Armenian cross-stones which are carved, memorial stele bearing a cross, and often with additional motifs such as rosettes, interlaces, and botanical motifs. Khachkars are characteristic of Medieval Christian Armenian art. Since 2010, khachkars, their symbolism and craftsmanship are inscribed in the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Located: Aram Street, Yerevan, Armenia.

Modern Stone Cross Carving

Green Activism

We turn right, walking over into Mashtots Park which was the scene of a rally in defense of the Park opposing construction in 2012. It was proposed to be turned into a boardwalk for stores, kiosks and shops for the public reducing the amount of green spaces in the city – temporary kiosks where built but were eventually dismantled due to green activists and the public outcry over the illegality of the construction.

Located: Mashtots Avenue, Yerevan, Armenia.

Green Activism

The Blue Mosque

We turn up Mashtots avenue and enter a mosque. During the Soviet era, because of atheist policy, the Blue Mosque stopped its services and became the Museum of Yerevan. After the independence of Armenia, with the support from Iranian government, the premises again started acting as a Mosque. The Yerevan region had been under the control of various Muslim rulers since the incursions of Timur in the 14th century. From the second third of the 18th century, it had been a province of Iran (ruled successively by Nadir Shah, Karim Khan Zand and the Iranian Qajar Dynasty), before it fell to the Russian empire in 1827.

Located: Mashtots Avenue, Yerevan, Armenia.

Blue Mosque

Victory Bridge

After leaving the mosque we walk up to a lookout surveying the ancient kingdom of one of the Persian Kings who ruled over Armenia in 190 BC. It was opened on 25 November 1945 and named the Victory Bridge to commemorate the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany at the end of World War II. It was designed by architects A. Mamijanyan and A. Asatryan and consists of seven arches which was built by captured German soldiers of WWII. When building the bridge a peculiar metal substance was discovered in the ground which did not exist on the periodic table. After the discovery the substance mysteriously disappeared. Today it still causes debate and intrigue.

Located: Mashtots Avenue, Yerevan, Armenia.

Victory Bridge

Genocide Museum & Football Stadium

To the right of us the Armenian Genocide memorial complex is undergoing repairs. The memorial is composed of the Medz Yeghern and the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute, dedicated to the victims of the Armenian Genocide and built on the hill of Tsitsernakaberd in Yerevan. The structure is 44 metre high stele reaching to the sky symbolizing the survival and spiritual rebirth of the Aremenian people. Every year on April 24, hundreds of thousands of Armenians gather at the memorial to commemorate the victims of the genocide committed by the Turks during WWI.

Located: Mashtots Avenue, Yerevan, Armenia.

Genocide Memorial

Political Assassination

We move back up Mashtots and come to an unfinished memorial signifying the Armenian parliament shooting, commonly known in Armenia as October 27 was an attack on the Armenian National Assembly in the capital Yerevan on October 27, 1999 by a group of armed men led by Nairi Hunanyan that, among others, killed the two de facto decision-makers in the country's political leadership: Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan, Parliament Speaker Karen Demirchyan. The shooting is one of the most significant and controversial events of post-Soviet Armenian history. It changed Armenia's political landscape considerably, while Sargsyan and Demirchyan were posthumously honored with National Hero titles.

Watch video >>

Located: Mashtots Avenue, Yerevan, Armenia.

Remembrance Plaque

The Children’s Railway Tunnel

Walking down the end of the park we arrive at a pedestrian tunnel which leads to the Hrazdan Gorge where a children’s railway is located, built during the Soviet Union era. It was a uniquely Soviet Union phenomenon not built as a fairground amusement but to train children from the ages of nine to fifteen in the operation of railways and steam locomotion. A man waits in the distance

Located: Children’s Tunnel, Mashtots Park, Yerevan, Armenia.

Children's Tunnel

The Meeting

We approach our final destination to meet up with the mysterious man who is willing to sell our guide an ancient artefact consisting of the oldest computer parts in the world.

Located: Children’s Tunnel, Mashtots Park, Yerevan, Armenia.

The meeting

The Artefact

An exchange begins with the seller presenting us with a carved mother board and keyboard made from the same stone used in the cross khachkars. The flip side of the motherboard has cuneiform inscribed onto its surface with a number of symbols and numbers also engraved. The reverse side of the keyboard also has a number of symbols which include two naked figures that have a striking resemblance to the imagery used by Voyager on its Golden Record. The original golden record attached to the side of Voyager 1 portrayed the diversity of life and culture on Earth, and was intended for any intelligent extraterrestrial life forms in outer space which may come in contact with it across our universe.

The artefacts were dug up in Armavir Marz, near Ejmiatsin, by the Sev Jour River in 2013. The site is a Bronze Age settlement and metallurgical center of 3rd - 1st Millennia BC, observatory of 2nd - 1st Millennia BC, an earliest center of worship. The first discovered (1902) rock-carving of Armenia is located here, representing a water-grid map of Aragats Mountain irrigation system of pre-Urartian period.

Located: Children’s Tunnel, Mashtots Park, Yerevan, Armenia.

The Artifact